Troubleshooting a nikon 9000 ED, new to film scanning please help

Discussion in 'Film and Processing' started by harry_templeton, Jan 5, 2012.

  1. I shoot 120 and 35mm, so the Nikon Super coolscan 9000ED at my Mom's office seemed like a godsend.
    Unfortunately, the only computer there that can run Nikon Scan is an ancient iMac. Its too slow for this kind of work. I lost two hours of my day and three good scans because it did not have enough RAM to save my images. The computer won't let me exploit most of the features of the 9000ED like digital ICE because they make it unstable and freeze up. Most of my scans from today (on black and white negative) failed miserably and took 20 minutes each.
    Very disappointed. I am sure that someone out there has lots of experience with the 9000 ED and could help me. I might be doing something wrong with the settings. some of the directions did not make sense, like the ones about the lightness controls. I can't get scans to look like i want them to without spending 30 minutes of trial and error on one scan, then fine tuning the settings again.
    The scans that do turn out are stunningly detailed and have nice colors, especially compared to the scans i get out of all-in-one printers.
    Please, is there a better way? Software update to run on modern macs? Cheap 3rd party scanner drivers? Some method to this madness?
  2. Good scanning is similar to learning to use a film camera, it has a learning curve.
    If you have not learned to use the software you have then trying another will not be of much help. You will most likely get a few responses to try Vuescan. It is shareware and downloadable from the net. You can install it and try it but any saved scans will have Vuescan all over them until you buy and apply a license.
    Good scanning only extracts all the information from the negative or slide that is scanned. Making it look good is for post processing.
    Some general rule of thumb:
    Do not exceed the manufacturers specified optical dpi x 100%, scanning higher is software interpolation. 1/2 manufacturers stated optical dpi x 200% is equal to the specified maximum dip. Print scaling in photo editing or printing software works better than scanning at larger than actual negative size in most cases. You may find that scans at a lower than optical limit are satisfactory for your needs.
    If the software has a negative fix function select the correct film type or as close to it as possible. Turn digital ICE off for silver base films such as standard B&W.
    Use the crop tool and isolate the image frame only then do a crop prescan and adjust the crop lines. Including the blank film area or film holder edge in the scan will throw off the tonal range of the image.
    Disconnect the internet connection or at least block it on the computer you are scanning on for the time you are doing the scanning.
    Close other running programs not involved in the scanning. Photoshop has an import function where a scan is done from within photoshop. Word or Excel, for example, running in the background will impair the scan. I either use the block all in my firewall for internet traffic, put the cable modem in standby, or disconnect the LAN cable when scanning.
    Find the file size that the computer can handle without being too slow or locking up and keep your scans smaller than that.
    Turn filters such as unsharp mask and sharpening off. Save those for post processing.
  3. Harry, there is no complexity at all or learning curve in scanning B&W film with a Coolscan 9000. Turn all settings off and leave only auto exposure and auto focus enabled under preferences. You put the film in and press scan.
    It sounds like your problem is the computer, not the scanner. If you have a good laptop with a 1394 port, I would use that and then you will also have the files with you ready to go home.
  4. I saw Les' answer after I posted my reply. Same good advice.
    Congrats on having a good scanner at your disposal for free. Enjoy.
  5. i have a great laptop with tons of RAM, but its an intel chip Macbook. Did nikon ever update the software to work on intel macs or is it only power-PC?
    And yes, i agree that the image quality is awesome, and i don't mind the scan times for it as long as i can save the scan before Nikon Scan goes unresponsive.
    So should i basically not do anything fancy for black and white? just AF and AE? And crop out the holder/ film borders?
    Color works pretty well, its just a problem of filesize overwhelming the system. But any suggestions on what settings to keep on and which to turn off would be great.
    Also, say i am doing a studio shoot or something where i will have relatively stable color temp and similar contrast on an entire roll of color negatives. Would there be an advantage to using a frame at the start of the roll to color profile the roll with one of those macbeth color checkers or something? or does that only work for purely digital workflows?
    Thanks for the help, i had a feeling i was doing something to contribute to the slowness, Ill try these different settings and see what I can do.
  6. oh and im running lion on the macbook pro. ive heard that its incompatible. :(
    Is there an intermediary program that would 'fool' nikonscan into working?
    and can modern versions of photoshop camera raw or lightroom open and edit the .NEF files from the 9000??
    says Mac OS: Mac OS 9.2.2, Mac OS X 10.1 through 10.5.x, 10.6 or later not supported.
    Visit product support to get to the download(s) if you need them. If they won't run on your machine then use
    Start with default settings then slowly work your way through all the options. You will find that you will not need all of them.
    The same film type properly exposed will scan well without changing settings.
  8. Harry, just do a batch scan with the scans saved directly to the drive unattended. You can crop them in PS.
  9. Charles: i have OS X 10.7.2 darn. but it is a good OS, almost perfectly stable when paired with this fast a computer. Ideally, i will do all photo work on the macbook with the lacie portable backup drive, file sizes are huge for 120 in 16bit RGB at any resolution above 1200 DPI.
    If i like the trial version enough, ill just spend my small personal savings that i set aside for lightroom on vuescan professional instead (lightroom is about the same cost with a student discount).
    Mauro: By crop i meant just to the actual film size, b/c Charles said that the black frame of the holder and the gaps between frames might mess up the auto exposure. any crop for composition would be done in PS. And batch scanning sounds like a good idea, then i could do other things while it scans, thanks! it didn't occur to me that i could do that.
    Les: what computer do you use with nikon scan? there was a mac pro at the art center, but it broke and i have no idea if it will ever be fixed. thats probably what they used for scanning the huge archives of 35mm slides.
    Is there a way of color profiling with film? IT-8 targets on the first frame etc? is this even needed/helpful or is it too much trouble?
    Thanks to all for the help!! I very much appreciate all the advice!
  10. IT8 targets are used to set a profile for the scanner. Once you have profiled the scanner you only need to do it once every 100 hours of operation or a time interval such as 3 or 6 months depending on how much you use the scanner. The IT8 profile will adjust for color shifts in the light source and or the sensor.
    I run Win XP on a HT P4 at 3ghz with 4 gig ram. I can handle up to 500mb files with a second physical HD providing the scratch disk for PS CS2. Average operation time such as file save on a 500mb file is 2 to 3 minutes depending on the editing.
    Scan at a higher resolution then reduce in image editing in steps to get the file size you want. A 120 @ 1600dpi will be around 250mb depending on image content and reduced to 1200dpi or 900dpi will usually be sharper than a scan at either of the smaller dpi settings.
  11. Is the multi-pass scanning a good idea for the occasional stunner of a neg/slide? or does it take up more time and file size than its worth? i don't really understand what it improves, the noise level on the 9000 ed is so low i can't imagine it can be improved upon much more. Is it getting more shadow detail or something
    I will probably go the vuescan route so i can use modern computers. I like the idea of raw processing and color profiling my film and getting infinite free updates, so the pro version is looking pretty good.
    I am sure that nikon scan is a very good program when paired with a good computer, but i do not own a power pc computer and i do not own any windows machines either, so vuescan is a cheaper and easier path for me.
    Could someone give me a quick rundown of generalized file sizes: different DPI inputs, print output sizes for each file size, etc. so i can figure out how much res i really need?
  12. should answer your questions about file size and print size.
    Another option might be to dual boot your Mac with the older OS and use it for just scanning.
    There are several versions of Linux available for $0 and one of them might run the Nikon software.
    When I first got my Microtek 8700 Pro with Silverfast AI I was like you having lots of questions and not getting the results I wanted. After watching the instruction videos and reading the help files which just said use this to adjust that I sat down with a known good negative and started at default scan then adjusted, prescanned, scanned and noted the differences each did. after 2 or 3 nights of 3 to 4 hours each I no longer need to do anything but look at a scanning software menu to know what to set to what or if anything needs tweaking at all.
    Vuescan is better than Silverfast SE but Silverfast AI is better than Vuescan Pro but Vuescan Pro is more affordable.
  13. Les: I would love to have that convenience but buying another computer is completely out of the question. I just won't have the funds for at least another year or two. if i can find a windows computer that isn't being used and has adequate speed, i will try nikon scan on it. then its just a cheap USB 2.0 to Firewire 400 dongle, and ill use my lacie portable back up drive to take files back to the macbook for editing. that would be an excellent solution.
    Ill keep my eyes open for a windows desktop computer, maybe someone in my family has one they aren't using, my grandparents just got an iMac, don't know what happened to the windows one. that computer was not fast, but I've played some pretty graphics intensive games on it so it should be able to keep up a lot better than the old iMac.
    ill research dual boot systems, that could work well if the windows computer idea doesn't turn out.
  14. You don't need the masks plus doing batch scan may even work with the crappy computer is already there since you will not be rendering the scans on the screen at all.
    I assume you have the 35mm plastic holder (12 frames at once). If not, buy one on ebay used for $20 or a new one for $50.
    No need to complicate yourself. This is easy peachy.
  15. Harry, If you are getting crashes, consider swapping out the USB cord with a new one. Sometimes multi-line cords can get an break inside, leaving and intermittent connection, causing all kinds of unpredictable results. I had similar problems with a scanner long ago and changing the cord cleared them up.
  16. Les: I did find a windows desktop with a decent spec. theres an unused screen and ill just hook everything together and update nikon scan to work for vista and give it another go! Now i just need to find a firewire to USB 2.0 connector. A wonderfully cheap solution indeed. Thanks!
    Mauro: the operations/communications department found the film holders. its got all the original equipment now: 35mm strip, 35mm mounted slides, and 120 strip. Film flatness is excellent, the 120 holder has that smart little locking tensioner, makes a huge difference.
    This is what i gathered from your advice:
    use more or less the factory default settings. save any post-scan processing for later in photoshop.
    Save as .NEF and open up in ACR afterwards for sharpening contrast etc then save as DNG (i archive all raw files as DNG's in case support of a particular proprietary format is lost in a future ACR update)
    8 bit or 16 bit RGB color, nothing but AF and AE and set it to the right film profile for color negatives? Batch scan, and I'm good to go?? sounds simple enough.
    Digital ICE on for color, off for black and white.
    Ill probably have some time next weekend to try it out. Ill take some of my good 35mm color negatives that I know print well into the scanner and see how it does.
    Thanks for the help!
  17. For 120 the glass holder is needed for perfect film flatness.
  18. Les: i mean the scanner has the firewire 400 6 contact connection of course. But the dell desktop does not. it has no firewire connections. It does have about 6 usb 2.0 ports however, so thats why i need a connector for firewire 400 into usb 2.0.
    So you recommend saving as .TIF files instead? they're both lossless/uncompressed so i guess its all the same general thing when i open them.
    Thanks for the reference!
    Mauro: I can see why that would be true, but even the standard 120 holder seems quite good.
  19. I'll second the recommendation to save your scans as TIFF.
  20. Hi Harry. I haven't read through this entire discussion, but based on your original post I would say that the scanning computer might be underpowered. If you wish to continue using that computer, consider scanning at lower resolutions. Otherwise, get a copy of Vuescan and bring in your Macbook Pro to use with the scanner. I owned a Coolscan 9000 up until a few months ago and used it with Vuescan running on a Macbook with OSX 10.6.8. I don't know how compatible Vuescan is with Lion, but I would not be surprised if it is compatible or has been updated to be.
  21. Nikon Scan will not run at all on OS X 10.7, as it was never updated to the Intel processors (the Mac version of Nikon Scan was written for PowerPC processors, up to the G5, only). It was able to run in OS X 10.6 due to Rosetta, the software built in to OS X (until it was eliminated in 10.7) that allowed older PowerPC code to run (at ~50% speed) on the newer Intel CPU.
    I tried scanning a couple years ago with my Macbook and found it was a lot faster with Windows XP. I've since configured Windows 7 Pro 64bit to run Nikon Scan and it does it handily. I've given up trying to scan with a Mac using Nikon Scan.
    You can buy Vuescan, but why bother? Nikon Scan has Digital Ice (though I rarely use it) and Digital ROC and Digital GEM, all very useful features. I don't believe the scan quality from Vuescan is going to be any higher than Nikon Scan.
    So ultimately, Windows can run Nikon Scan faster than Mac.
    Have you considered using Boot Camp on your Mac and loading a copy of Windows to run Nikon Scan? I've done that and had great results.
  22. Now i just need to find a firewire to USB 2.0 connector. A wonderfully cheap solution indeed.​
    An even cheaper solution is to use the PCI Firewire card that Nikon shipped with the 9000. Ask the film department to dig around again. It should be in the boxes somewhere. This is how I have my system hooked up.
    The Nikon PCI Firewire card is just a generic adapter. If you can't find it, just buy one new. This TrendNet unit ( is representative of the class. You shouldn't have to pay more than $20USD.
    I'm skeptical that USB to Firwire translation will work reliably or well. If you run into strange operational problems or really slow and jerky scans, look to this first in the debug.
    8 bit or 16 bit RGB color, nothing but AF and AE and set it to the right film profile for color negatives? Batch scan, and I'm good to go?​
    Always scan at 4000dpi and to 16bit TIF. Blow bulb across the film before the scan to physically get rid of as much dust as you can; brushing causes more problems than it helps. Use the glass holder to keep the film flat corner to corner. If the holder glass has finger print smudges, clean it with commercial photo solvent (basically 100% methanol) and wipe off with lint free disposable rag.
    Use the Nikonscan preview on each frame to crop out the film rebate. Bulk scan thereafter.
    The idea is to get a digital negative that is as perfect an analog of the original piece of physical film as possible. Spend the extra care with the scan the first time, and you'll never have to do it again.
  23. Ok, I've scanned a few batches of velvia on the 9000. Still linked to the old mac, but i found some workarounds in the options menu to prevent it from stopping the scan in the event of a hard drive error and it works fine if a bit slow to save etc. fine for now.
    Very pleased with results and hands-off batch scanning means i only need about 20 minutes to prepare for scanning. It still takes 1-2 hours from scan start to saving the files for 16bit RGB @ 4000 DPI for 2 or 3 6x6 frames, but I don't have to do anything once it goes. Multipass scanning is remarkably slow, but does seem to help a bit with shadow detail adjustments in post.
    I put in slides, adjust holder, put in holder, preview, get settings and offset right, press scan, and then leave. I ate lunch and went for a haircut, came back, still scanning. Did 2 hours as a teacher's assistant in a photography class. Came back, finally done scanning.
    as for results, this scanner is AMAZING! shadow detail coming out of seemingly nowhere when I edit the files, noise is only an issue for really weird tonal adjustments. Colors are perfectly matched to what I see when I put the slides on a light table.
    Thank you so much for the help! Scans are looking good and results are easy and consistent.
  24. Been a long time but i scanned for the first time in a very long while and all i can say is
    Wow am I ever impressed!.
    A nikon scan Batch scan (with af/ae) of 3 6x6 slides took about 8 minutes, the previews took about 3 minutes and the
    dual pass scanning worked flawlessly on the one slide that i tried it. Took j
    I followed your instructions to leave the editing for later,
    The LS9000 is attached to the previous model metal faced iMac and it is FAST! I thought it had only done one scan when
    the holder came out after just. 7 minutes, but looked in the folder and all 3 were there.

    Blazing fast scans, saves quick, never crashed. Gorgeous quality images in minutes, soo much better than a flatbed.

    Im going to scan for a few hours tomorrow and catch up on my scans!
    Thanks so much for the settings help and the newer computer combo is a dream to use!

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